Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ballistics (SWBLSTCS.WAD)

by Sam "Metabolist" Woodman

Where Ice Station Alpha got cut out of Alien Vendetta and remained so, Ballistics was removed from Hell Revealed II... only for it to return for the final release. That's why it initially made its way to the archive as a solo publication; Sam has an aside in the .TXT for an Andy, presumably one Olivera, talking about a few changes he made since it was excised. I don't know the full story of how it found its way back into the project but according to Woodman it was removed to make way for another level of his own construction. Given HR2's troubled development history, I assume that some of the levels just didn't come through in one way or another and SWBLSTCS felt like a reasonable alternative.

Both the "original" and Ballistics circa 2003 are slaughtermaps and the enemy composition is exactly the same. What you have are two brick courtyards ringed by outer corridors that look in. The two main spaces are almost rotationally symmetric and joined by a zig-zag alleyway in the middle of the playing area. Each courtyard has a weapons platform with four plasma guns on pedestals in its center, resembling a similar structure found in the southeastern portion of Doom II's "Suburbs". You start out fighting in the northwestern section and when the time is right move on to the other side. The enemy placement is thick, but the opposition is weighted toward disposable imps with the majority of the HP tied up in Hell knights.

If you've already played "Ballistics" as part of Hell Revealed II, then there isn't much of a reason to see its initial, solo release. The only real differences are in how the player pickups are placed. Woodman's single is quicker to get you started, drowning you in ammo strewn across the map rather than pushing you up onto the weapons platform and then into the surrounding hallways to start a long, combat shotgun grind. It's also slightly more eager to deliver the BFG into your expectant hands as it's snagged along with the yellow key, making the resulting ambush quite easy to handle.

While both versions of the level are basically the same, the availability of ammo makes Woodman’s solo adventure much more accessible. If you dislike the standards of finely-tuned encounters and ammo balance that have come to dominate the community’s sensibilities then you might find something to appreciate in this. I enjoyed the leeway to engage in a reckless rampage but I doubt whether Ballistics will concede anything to those slaughterfest skeptics who are incapable of immersing themselves in arcade abandon.



  1. Cool. Even the die-hard HR2 fanboy that I am didn't know that this map had a separate release.

    1. Just one of those things that you find while doing deep dives, I guess!